A Martial Arts Marketing Idea You Can Use: TV Show Tie-Ins…

You might have read that headline and thought, “Yeah, easy for you to say.”

But, it’s true – and here’s why.

martial arts on tvAll you have to do is turn on the T.V. set and flip a channel or two to see the martial arts being covered and portrayed in a positive light. You may not think about this recent media phenomenon as being something that can directly benefit your school – but that’s only because no one has showed you how.

Bear with me here, because I’m going to tell you how you can capitalize on the media coverage of the martial arts to promote your programs… But first, here are just a few shows that have aired recently on national television that offer a favorable (or at least, entertaining) view of the martial arts:

1. The History Channel’s recent documentary, “How Bruce Lee Changed The World”:

2. NatGeo’s “Fight Science” – Fun show that compares different fighting styles and measures them using somewhat suspect, but entertaining science experiments:

3. AMC’s upcoming series “Badlands”. If it makes it through production, it could be a big hit.


I could go on and on… and this doesn’t even get into shows like Fight Quest and Human Weapon. Both were unfortunately cancelled, but this season’s shows prove that T.V. land is more than happy to feed the public’s hunger for martial arts reality T.V.  And, let’s not forget all the MMA coverage (how could you – Spike is a non-stop advertisement for Zuffa right now).

So, how’s a martial arts school owner supposed to capitalize on all this T.V. coverage in their marketing?


Martial Arts Marketing: How To Capitalize On T.V. Coverage of Your Art or Style To Promote Your School

To do this, you’re going to use what’s known as a “tie-in” in the movie industry. It’s a commonly used practice, and movie studios use it to generate additional revenue from their movie franchises.

Well, you’re going to turn this concept into your own martial arts marketing campaign. How? By associating your school with online media coverage of your style.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. First, find some online footage of your style being portrayed in a positive light (this depends on your audience – choose wisely!)
  2. Second, you need a website or blog. Just as I did above, you’re going to embed the clip into your website. The best clips are those that are officially sanctioned by the show or channel, since they’ll be higher quality and not in danger of getting yanked off YouTube for copyright infringement issues.
  3. You’re going to feature this clip on your site, and introduce it with copy that says something like, “We offer classes in ‘X’ martial art – the style recently featured on ‘Y’ T.V. series! See the clip below for a demonstration:”
  4. You are also going to mention this in your ads… just be honest about it. Don’t attempt to give the impression that it’s YOUR school that was featured in the show (unless it was – or, if your instructor or an affiliated school was featured, then by all means talk about that).
  5. Finally, you are going to blog about the show where your style was featured, and discuss elements of the show in a way that is positive and that sparks interest for the reader. The object here is to position you as the local expert on the art or style. Put a call to action at the end of everything, including your articles. Post a coupon for a free class or intro course at the end of your article – fail to do this and you’ve wasted your P.R. and marketing efforts for this promotion.

So, now you have an actionable plan for tying in your school with national media coverage of the martial arts… I suggest you get on this NOW before your competition beats you to it.

Mike Massie is the author of Small Dojo Big Profits and runs a martial arts business coaching website for new instructors and small school owners, MAbizU.com.


  1. Kurt Schulenburg on May 20, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I don’t know… Batman beating up Wolverine sounds like a stretch to me. :-)

  2. Jason Stanley on May 24, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Great stuff Mike…

    Quite funny too in that I just posted a similar article at my blog about Lyoto Machida’s victory earlier tonight in the UFC. It’s a great day for those of us who teach traditional karate…


    – Jason

  3. Mike Massie on May 25, 2009 at 6:21 am


    Kurt, it’s pretty funny if you haven’t seen it.

    And, the SME’s they bring in to display the skills/weapons/styles/etc. for each show really get hacked when they “lose” – which is all determined by computer simulations.

    Too funny for words… and it makes for some entertaining television.

  4. Mike Massie on May 25, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I guess great minds think alike, Jason…

    As for Lyoto, I’m really happy he won… too bad his fighting style isn’t what the crowds want to see (skill and finesse).

    He has to be my favorite fighter right now, with Demian Maia running a close second.

    Hope he stays on top for a while.

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